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Ireland Cancels Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade Amid Coronavirus Fears

Ireland will cancel its famous St. Patrick's Day celebrations as coronavirus fears affect sporting and cultural events all across Europe.

Ireland will cancel this year's St. Patrick's Day parade, state broadcaster RTE News reported Monday, as government officials around Europe move to shut down major events as the conoravirus continues to spread across the Continent.

The March 17 event, which traditionally celebrates Ireland's patron saint -- and the person credited with bringing Christianity to the island in the fifth century -- was expected to host around one hundred thousand of people in the Irish capital. Similar parades in smaller cities such as Cork have also been scrubbed.

Ireland has thus far recorded only 21 cases of the coronavirus across the Republic, with a further 12 confirmed infections in Norther Ireland, 

Earlier Monday, France ordered sporting events in the nation's top-flight soccer league to host upcoming games either behind closed doors or with a maximum of 1,000 fans. The Paris marathon, scheduled for April 5, will instead be run in October. 

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Italy, which has Europe's largest coronavirus outbreak and is currently treating more than 7,400 confirmed cases, made similar moves for its professional soccer league earlier this month.

Britain's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, however, said Monday that "based upon the current scientific advice from the government's medical experts, there is no rationale to close or cancel sporting events as things stand."   

In Greece, a ceremony set to light the Torch for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be held without spectators, officials said, although the International Olympic Committee continues to insist the Games themselves will not be disrupted by the virus.